The problems generated by the snow on the operation of the Grande Roue de Montréal were known before the accident that cost the life of a young 22-year-old worker last December. Employees were poorly informed about the procedures to follow in the event of bad weather.
Posted at 3:33 p.m.
Updated at 6:48 p.m.
This is what emerges from the latest CNESST investigation report on the accident that caused the death of Riley Valcin at the Grande Roue de Montréal, on December 25, 2021.
After the young 22-year-old employee lost his life in his workplace, the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) confirms in its final report shortcomings in the training of employees, their supervision as well as maintenance procedures in the event of bad weather.
Through the Access to Information Act, The Press had learned last May that a dozen breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act had been noted by the CNESST authorities on the site of the Grande Roue de Montréal.
The inspectors pointed out in particular that a dangerous working method had been improvised on the day of the accident to clear snow from the structures of the Ferris wheel during its operation.
Timeline of an avoidable tragedy
“Between December 7 and 20, 2021, the President of LGRDM [la Grande Roue de Montréal] and Dutch Wheels engineers [concepteurs de la Grande Roue] were present at the workplace, in order to carry out various inspection and repair work on the Ferris wheel,” the report reads.
During this same period, concerns about the functioning of the wheel during difficult weather conditions such as snowfall had been raised by one of the operators.
According to the report, on the day of the accident, Riley Valcin was sent to a no-go area near the wheel motors to manually clear snow from the ride’s drive wheels while the ride was in motion. A dangerous method, according to what the CNESST inspectors found.
The victim’s open coat would then have caught in the gears of the attraction, causing fatal injuries to the pelvis and forehead.
The Ferris wheel’s operation and maintenance manual, of which the only copy offered in English was not available to employees, nevertheless stipulates that no one is authorized to access restricted areas when the carousel is in motion and that the carousel should never be operated if there is ice or snow on the carousel.
“All accidents can be avoided by implementing preventive measures. Whether it’s technical means like protectors or procedures, training,” Judy Major told The Pressone of the CNESST inspectors in charge of the investigation.
“The CNESST lawyers are still analyzing the file, it could take up to a year before this work is completed,” said Nicolas Bégin, spokesperson for the CNESST, at a press conference. However, he cannot advance if accusations of negligence against the employer are possible.
After an access to information request, The Press had learned last May that a dozen breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act had been noted by the CNESST authorities on the site of the Grande Roue de Montréal.
“We would like to draw some positive from this tragic situation, in particular by encouraging workers to become better informed about health and safety at work and also by encouraging employers to better protect them”, declared Joey Valcin, brother of the victim, on the line with The Press. He hopes that a situation like the one his brother Riley experienced never happens again.
“We have taken note of the CNESST’s final report. From the beginning, we have worked closely and transparently [avec les enquêteurs] to ensure that the additional measures required had been put in place,” said Lawrence Esso, spokesperson for La Grande Roue de Montréal, in a telephone interview with The Press.
She confirms that almost all of the report’s recommendations have already been implemented. The site is also preparing to install an electronic locking system for the access doors leading to the wheel installations.
She adds that six new doors have also been installed in order to completely banish access to the structures of the wheel as well as to its moving parts. Approval from a Chief Operator is now required to access restricted areas.
With Vincent Larin, The Press
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Fatal accident at the Montreal Ferris Wheel | The CNESST describes “deficient” management of health and safety
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